76ers

Jahlil Okafor, Markelle Fultz miss Sixers' trip to Boston

Jahlil Okafor, Markelle Fultz miss Sixers' trip to Boston

BOSTON — Jahlil Okafor was one of the players who did not travel with the Sixers to Boston. Unlike Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell, the reason was not related to injuries or rest.

Okafor is out of the rotation. Rather than sit on the bench in TD Garden, Okafor could use the time on the practice court in Camden, New Jersey. He stayed back Thursday during the one-game road trip for individualized training.

“[We are] trying to get him in a place that we can do whatever we can do to help him move forward, to move his career forward,” Brett Brown said. “If it’s not going to be in Philly, to make sure that we create an environment that he knows he’s cared for, that we are doing everything we can to keep his body right and his mind right and his fitness up.” 

Okafor has played a total of 25 minutes over two games this season, his third in the league. He made it known after the Sixers did not pick up his contract option that he would like to be bought out or traded. Neither scenario has been reached in the month since then. 

It seems likely the Sixers will make a deal before the deadline as they look to get something in return for the former No. 3 overall pick. Brown wants Okafor to be prepared to play in that case. 

“At any point, somebody could tell him he’s traded,” Brown said. “He’ll be on a plane and he’s going to roll into a city and expect to be able to perform. When that moment, if that moment happens, we want to do everything we can to help him.”

It has yet to be determined if the Sixers will implement the same approach for their next road trip, starting Dec. 9 in Cleveland. Okafor also was inactive for the Sixers’ home game on Wednesday while Nik Stauskas (ankle) was taken off the inactive list and cleared to play. 

Fultz in Kentucky
Brown reiterated the Sixers are not pushing Fultz, who is dealing with right shoulder soreness and scapular muscle imbalance, back on the court. 

Fultz is in Kentucky receiving physical therapy on his shoulder with Dr. Ben Kibler, Medical Director of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky at the Lexington Clinic. The Sixers announced on Nov. 19 Fultz would be reevaluated in “approximately two to three weeks,” which hasn’t happened yet.

“I think the defining moment is probably going to end up being, we’re going to look at his shot,” Brown said. “He’s going to go to the free throw line and we’re all going to say, does it pass the eye test? 

“He’s not there yet. He’s just not there yet. Everything is moving forward, but it’s not anything that we’re going to rush. There needs to be a tremendous confidence level that he has and a health-related confidence that our medical people have. As far as a timeline of what that all means, we don’t know. But I can tell you his heart is in the right place. His work ethic is great.” 

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

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NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers were right.

The Sixers argued they should have set up at halfcourt, not fullcourt, for a decisive final possession of double overtime in Friday’s game against the Thunder. After a closer look following their triple-overtime loss, the NBA ruled the Sixers were proved correct. 

“After review, it was determined that the 76ers called timeout with 00:01.2 remaining on the game clock, which was prior to Saric's (PHI) dribble. Therefore, they should have been given the opportunity to advance the ball into their own frontcourt for the inbound,” the NBA Officiating’s Last Two Minute Report noted.

The confusion occurred at the end of the second overtime. Dario Saric got a defensive rebound and the Sixers called a timeout before he dribbled the ball. Because of this, the Sixers should have been allowed to set up a final play in the halfcourt, which is exactly what they had practiced and called.

But the referees made a last-second change as the Sixers were setting up. The Sixers were told they had to inbound from fullcourt, which would have been the case if Saric had dribbled before the timeout. The Last Two Minute Report indicated he, in fact, did not. 

“Respect that they are that transparent, but complete disappointment that it can happen,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “You really scratch your head. It’s significant.”

Every play, every basket can make a difference for a team fighting to make the playoffs. The Sixers were confident they could have won the game with the halfcourt play. Instead, they dropped back down to .500 and currently 10 in the Eastern Conference.

“Those things you need to avoid to give yourself every chance to win,” Brown said. “We can point to many other things that were self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to do better. But when it’s that exposed and that prominent of an environment with 1.2 seconds left, it’s disappointing. But like I say, they’re transparent. I respect the fact they admitted it and we move on.”

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid does not play both games of a back-to-back, but whether he plays in either of the Sixers' next two matchups will have to be determined.

Embiid is not traveling with the Sixers to Chicago for Monday’s game against the suddenly-streaking Bulls, who have won five straight. The big man usually plays at home in these scenarios, and considering he played 49 minutes in Friday’s triple-overtime loss, the decision was expected.

Embiid’s availability for Tuesday at home against the Kings, though, has not been finalized at this point. This is not surprising either being two days ahead of the game. Embiid, who has been dealing with back tightness, did not participate in practice Sunday. The Sixers will evaluate, monitor, and go through treatment with Embiid before making their call.

“Unsure at this stage,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “I do know he’s categorically out tomorrow and we’re going to learn more about him being available when we come back [for] Sacramento, I’d expect in the next 24 hours.”

The Sixers do know they will be without another two players for some time.

Trevor Booker will miss at least the next two games after suffering spraining his left ankle Friday. The newly acquired reserve will be reevaluated in approximately five-to-seven days.

Even though Booker was traded to the Sixers less than two weeks ago, he already made an impact on the second unit. Brown has seen enough over the last four games to know what the team will be missing.

“His toughness,” Brown said. “He’s got a motor. He plays with such a spirit. He’s a man. He’s a pro. He’s been in the league for a while. He gets it. It’s everything that you miss. It’s really everything this team needs.”

Furkan Korkmaz likely will be sidelined even longer. The rookie suffered a Lisfranc injury on his left foot while playing for the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 15 and is out indefinitely. The Sixers recalled Korkmaz from the G League and he is going through evaluation and testing. There is no timetable set for Korkmaz at this point.  

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons described the injury as, “Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of the injury can vary from simple to complex, involving many joints and bones in the midfoot.”

Korkmaz has been going back and forth between the Sixers and their G League affiliate in Delaware to get playing opportunities as part of his development in his first NBA season.